Sales development is changing, and if you want to stay on top of your game as a sales development representative (SDR), then you need to change with it.
Historically, SDRs conducted research and initial outreach to determine if a prospect was qualified and could be passed on to an account executive. However, because of new technology and automation, SDRs today are responsible for much more.
Let’s look at how sales development has changed and how you can stay ahead of the game in 2020.
The Changing Landscape of Sales Development
Sales engagement platforms (SEPs), like Outreach, are now seen as a critical component of a sales org's tech stack, with 92% of sales orgs calling it critical to their success (TOPO, "Sales Engagement Market Guide"). In addition, automation technology, like the kind that is found in chatbots, is taking over.
These technology advancements have made B2B sales easier and more efficient for today's SDR.
All this automation means that you’ll spend less time making cold calls and cold emails, and spending more time talking to warm leads and focusing on personalization.
Instead of just determining how “sales-ready” a prospect is, you are responsible for providing early value and forming a relationship with the prospect.
Continuing to do things the old way isn’t just a waste of time, it’s not what customers want. A recent Forrester report found that customers want instant access to information and interactive tools that they can use to determine if your product is right for them. These are things that chatbots and other automation tools can do for you.
So, instead, focus on what you, a human, excel at: problem solving and relationship building.
How to Stay Ahead of the Game
To stay ahead of the game, you need to adapt.
Become a Creative Problem Solver
In order to stand out in a sea of automation, focus on understanding customer pain points and find creative solutions to their problems. Take a more consultative approach to your role by helping customers discover the possibilities that your product brings in solving their most pressing business problems.
Do some research into your prospect and their company, check their social media, their open positions, and anything that will help you understand the problems they may be facing. Then brainstorm with your team to find unique ways that your product can help. This is often a collaborative effort with the prospect themselves, but in the end, it’s on you to come up with a compelling solution.
The better you are at problem solving, the better you’ll be at developing high-quality leads who are excited to buy your product.
Up Your Communication Game
Cold emails sent en masse will just get lost in the noise—the prospecting you do needs to be much more personalized and focused. Sending a generic message like, “Hey, I would love to have a few minutes of your time to chat,” just doesn’t cut it.
Make your messaging brief, personalized, and laser-focused on value. Show them that you understand the specific problems they’re going through, and how you can help them.
Jason Bay has a fantastic article on Sales Hacker about how to improve your initial communication with the prospect. You can check that out here.
Become a Master at Relationship Building
Sales has always been about relationships, but that role was previously delegated to the account executives when SDRs were primarily doing a lot of the qualification work. That’s simply not the case anymore.
Keep up-to-date on what your network and prospects are doing, and provide value where you can—send an article you think would help them, an encouraging word, or connect them to someone else in your network.
Embrace New Tech and Channels
The sales technology landscape may be changing, but that’s no reason to shy away from it. Become well versed in new channels, programs, and trends.
Follow your customer’s lead. If they’re very active on LinkedIn, for example, then reaching out to them via InMail is most likely the best. If they post a lot of videos, then you can try sending them a video with your value prop. You should be meeting them where they are, not expecting them to come to you.
In a similar vein, embracing new sales engagement technology will give you more time to focus on creating real connections with your prospects.
Outreach is great for this—the platform allows you to manage prospecting activities, keep track of prospects, and create personalized email sequences. It also integrates with a wide array of sales tools, which means you can have one cohesive tech universe where all your tools work together in harmony.
It’s Time to Adapt
The bottom line is that technology and customer expectations are changing the way sales development is done, and it’s not likely to slow down anytime soon.
To be a successful SDR in 2020, you need to watch the trends, and constantly adapt and improve your prospecting strategy. If you do, you’ll not only find yourself thriving as an SDR, you’ll soon be climbing the ranks.
Learn how Outreach uses Sequences to double response rates